Trax the Moose in Mask

Return to Campus

As Utica College, along with other parts of the region and nation make efforts to re-open businesses, functions, and campuses, we continue to vigilantly monitor and respond to the worldwide coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on the Utica College community as developments change and new information and guidance is made available.

For an archive of Utica College's responses throughout the early months of the pandemic, please visit:

UC - Coronavirus


From Utica College President Laura Casamento:

July 27, 2020

Over the past several weeks, I have been advising you of the many steps we are taking to safely  reopen campus and resume in-person instructions and operations. The health and safety protocols supporting our reopening plan, which are detailed in full at utica.edu/reopen, have been carefully guided at every step and turn by national, state, and local public health officials. These protocols have and will continue to evolve as the scientific and medical communities learn more about the novel coronavirus and advance new containment and risk-reduction measures. This is particularly true with regard to our testing protocols.

On the guidance of public health officials, we are updating our COVID-19 testing policies and protocols. Please pay close attention to the following information.

New and Returning Students

All students will be tested for COVID-19 immediately upon their arrival to UC. Students must receive a negative test result before moving into the residence halls and beginning in-person classes. In partnership with Primary Urgent Care, we will be conducting rapid-result antigen testing on campus at no charge. Students will stay in their vehicles with their families, and will receive results within approximately 15 minutes of being tested. Students who test negative will be given their room keys. Students testing positive will receive guidance from a Student Health Center nurse, in coordination with the Oneida County Health Department, on how to isolate themselves. They may return home to isolate, or if they prefer to remain on campus, quarantine living space will be provided in the former Burrstone House residence hall.

Pre-registration is required for testing and move-in. In the coming days, students will be receiving an e-mail notification from the Office of Student Living and College Engagement (SLCE). This notification will include a registration link. Students and families will have a choice of designated three-hour time slots; each slot will be limited to no more than 75 students.

Testing will begin on Wednesday, August 12 and continue through Monday, August 24. The schedule framework is as follows:

  • August 12 – Resident Assistants and commuting students
  • August 13 – Orientation Mentors and commuting students
  • August 14 – Commuting students
  • August 15 – Football team and commuting students
  • August 16 – Other fall sports teams and commuting students
  • August 17 – Residential and commuting students (first-year and returning)
  • August 18 – Residential and commuting students (first-year and returning)
  • August 19 – Residential and commuting students (first-year and returning)
  • August 20 – Residential and commuting students (returning)
  • August 21 – Residential and commuting students (returning)
  • August 22 – Residential and commuting students (returning)
  • August 23 – Residential and commuting students (returning)
  • August 24 – Any returning student who has not been tested by this point

More details will be included in the communication from SLCE.

In addition to mandatory first-day testing, we encourage all students as well as family members and guests who plan to accompany them, to get tested prior to returning to campus. Students should upload their test results to the Student Health Portal. Student ID cards will be activated only after a negative test has been verified. Finally, as detailed in the reopening plan, the College will use a two-way surveillance strategy of individual and pool testing following move-in and during the course of the fall semester.

Faculty and Staff

Likewise, we are requiring all faculty, professional staff, and contracted staff to be tested by no later than August 15. Primary Urgent Care will be conducting mobile, rapid-result antigen testing on campus for all employees on Monday, August 3. Results will be available within approximately 15 minutes of being tested. Employees will receive an e-mail with more information from the Office of Human Resources later this week.

Those who are unable to come to campus on August 3 can receive the same test by visiting Primary Urgent Care, which is located at 1904 Genesee Street in Utica, a five-minute drive from campus. You will need to identify yourself as a Utica College employee and show your UC ID. 

Students, Faculty, and Staff

Finally, all students, faculty, and staff must complete mandatory COVID-19 Safe Campus Training by August 15. The online training module, which takes approximately 20 minutes to complete, is available at utica.edu/forms/covid-19-training.

I understand these early testing protocols are stringent. But they are specifically designed, on the best guidance of infectious disease experts, to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 to our campus community by identifying and isolating possible carriers, including those who are asymptomatic. I remain grateful for your patience and cooperation, and encourage you to refer to utica.edu/reopen or contact the Office of Emergency Management at emermgt@utica.edu for more information.

Sincerely,

Laura Casamento
President

Previous Communications

From Utica College President Laura Casamento and Provost Todd Pfannestiel:

July 20, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

Over the past several weeks, our Utica College Return to Campus Task Force has been working diligently to craft a plan to allow our institution to move forward with the fall 2020 semester in-person, with necessary modifications in place to safeguard the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, families, and their home communities amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Task Force has brought forward a series of recommendations to allow UC to reopen in a prepared and conscientious manner, while sustaining to the fullest extent possible the intimate learning experience that defines UC. These  recommendations have been presented to and endorsed by the Utica College Board of Trustees, subject to New York State approval, and they will guide the reopening of campus and resumption of in-person activities, including classroom instruction, housing, dining, and intercollegiate athletics.

The more than 250 individual recommendations, which are built upon the thoughtful work of more than 50 faculty, staff members, and students who served on the Task Force, are available in full detail here.

In the meantime, we would like to draw your attention to only a few of the key elements.

  • We will reopen campus in complete alignment with all state guidelines and requirements on public health and safety protocols, including occupancy restrictions, physical distancing requirements, use of face-coverings, self-screenings, containment and isolation protocols, and extensive health promotion and education.
  • We will welcome back students on Monday, August 17.
  • Classes for the Fall 2020 semester will begin on Monday, August 24 (one week earlier than originally planned), thus permitting in-person instruction to be completed by the Thanksgiving recess. Classes will be held during the previously scheduled fall break as well as the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.
  • Final exams will be conducted virtually following Thanksgiving recess or in an alternative in-person experience prior to the recess.
  • Students with internship or fieldwork experiences or demonstrated need for academic or technological support may return to campus for the three weeks following Thanksgiving recess.
  • The week between returning to campus and the start of the fall semester (August 17-24) will provide a resocialization period, allowing all students time to adjust to changes put into place on campus to comply with state health guidelines. Orientation for new students will also occur during this week-long period.
  • Residential move-in will be staggered, including designated times for students to “drop off and go” prior to August 17. This will help assure that we do not have an overabundance of people in one space at one time. Specific information about this process will be provided over the next several weeks.
  • With limited exceptions, all courses will be prepared for some combination of in-person, online, and hybrid delivery, should the eventuality arise that a shift to one of these other formats is needed due to increased risks of COVID-19.
  • Classrooms will be equipped with appropriate technology so that students and faculty with underlying health conditions requiring alternate arrangements have the option of distance learning.
  • A valid College-ID will be required for entry into all campus buildings.
  • To help minimize the risk of transmissions, all students will be encouraged to remain in upstate New York for the duration of the fall 2020 semester.
  • The College will adopt NCAA guidelines for athletic competition as well as the guidelines of the Empire 8 conference and our peer member institutions. Only UC students, faculty, and staff will be permitted as spectators at athletic events, with appropriate physical distancing restrictions. These protocols will be in place for the start of the fall season, and they are subject to change based on guidance from the state health officials.
  • Homecoming Weekend will be canceled for 2020.

While implementation details remain to be worked out, we invite your feedback and discussion as we move forward. To that end, I hope you will join us for a Virtual Town Hall on Monday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m. We will offer further insight and take questions, suggestions, and feedback as we continue to maneuver these unchartered waters. Log-in instructions will be shared in advance of the Town Hall via UC’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter channels. Questions for the Town Hall can be submitted ahead of time at utica.edu/student-town-hall.

We remain grateful for your resiliency, patience, and support. Working together, we can plan for and take confidence in our ability to have a great fall semester at Utica College.

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

Todd Pfannestiel
Provost

July 15, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

Earlier today, we shared with our fall season student-athletes and coaches the difficult news that the Empire 8 President’s Council has made the decision to postpone all fall sports until the spring semester. A decision regarding winter sports will be made at a later date.

This decision follows several months of dedicated planning for an on-time opening to the fall season and comes only after having exhausted every possible adjustment, including, but not limited to, playing a conference-only schedule, prohibiting spectators at events, and closing locker rooms.

In the end, the Council was in unanimous agreement that delaying the season until the spring semester was the best course to take for two simple reasons. First, the health, safety, and well-being of everyone who comes on our campuses is our highest priority. And, two, our student athletes deserve every opportunity for a competitive season and complete experience, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to provide that for them.

We are optimistic about playing a regular season and hosting conference tournaments this spring. In the meantime, our coaches are working with their respective teams to plan training programs that comply with all public health protocols and NCAA regulations.

Athletics have been woven into the fabric of campus life since GIs decided to organize sports only weeks into Utica College’s inaugural academic year in 1946. As such, this decision is truly unprecedented. What is not unprecedented is UC’s resolve and commitment to providing a student experience that is second to none.

Sincerely,

Laura Casamento
President

David Fontaine
Director of Physical Education and Athletics

July 15, 2020

Dear UC students,

Every day, we are reminded of the devastating effects of COVID-19 on nearly every facet of our lives. The continued spread of the virus in many states is alarming. So, too, are reports from pubic health officials who have traced chain reactions of infections to large gatherings involving college-age students.

As we approach our long-awaited return to campus, my message to you is this: Be better than some of your peers in other parts of the country. 

We are encouraged by the fact that New York state now has one of the lowest infection rates in the U.S. But the staggering numbers in many states must serve as a reality check to college students everywhere, as well as a plea for your patience, cooperation, and good judgment as we return to UC.

Like you, I know that the social experience of campus life is a huge part of what students love about Utica College. I know how anxious you are to return to the events, activities, and in-person interactions that make UC such a special place. We are hard at work planning a vibrant campus experience this fall. But as we’re seeing amid the steep rise in infections in large parts of the country, we must realize that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, nor can we expect that it will be at any point in the near future. What’s more, we’re now seeing clearly how reckless and irresponsible behavior and cavalier attitudes are contributing to spikes in cases.  

In consultation with national, state, and local public health officials, Utica College has put in place a comprehensive series of protocols that, combined with the incredible effort in New York state to flatten the curve and contain the spread of the virus, will allow us to carefully reopen campus and resume in-person classes and activities next month. At the core of this reopening plan are four easy but critically important measures that scientists have told us reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

  • We must wear masks.
  • We must wash our hands regularly and thoroughly. 
  • We must regularly monitor our health and complete a daily self-screening. 
  • We must strictly physical distance and avoid large gatherings, particularly those that foster irresponsible behaviors. 

If we do these simple steps, we can enjoy a fall semester back together on campus, with face-to-face classes and activities. The protocols we’ve developed serve two purposes: to protect the well-being of the members of our community and to keep our path back to normalcy as short as practically possible. But while we wait for the medical science community to make further breakthroughs in treatment and prevention, we will proceed with an abundance of caution, prioritizing health and safety and focusing on small-group experiences in and out of the classroom.

Without question, this new version of campus life will feel different as we navigate new routines, habits, and behaviors. But despite the challenges, we must pull together as a community. We must be safe. We must be smart. We must be patient. We must be considerate. 

We must be better.

Sincerely,

Jeffery Gates
Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management

 

July 14, 2020


Dear UC students,

As discussed in the UC Safe Reopening Plan, significant work is currently ongoing to make adjustments to the fall semester course schedule in order to deliver courses in the safest possible environment. 

The result of these adjustments will include many in-person courses continuing to be delivered in-person, while others may be delivered in an online or hybrid (a mix of in-person and online) format. Rest assured, we will have a robust in-person learning and living experience on the Utica College campus this fall.

We appreciate your patience as the faculty and deans continue to work on these course schedule adjustments. During this time, the Banner course schedule is unavailable for viewing online; thus students may not be able to see their schedules for a few days. The revised course schedule will be available by Friday, July 24, after which success coaches will contact students to further discuss any changes impacting you directly. While these schedules may require further adjustments should changing circumstances warrant, we are working diligently to have most of the adjustments in place by the end of next week.

We look forward to welcoming you back to campus next month. 

Sincerely,

Todd Pfannestiel
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

July 2, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

Utica College is updating its existing travel guidance to align with the recent travel advisory issued by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo that requires a 14-day quarantine upon entering or re-entering New York state from specific states.

Required Self-Quarantine After Travel

Effective immediately and for as long as the New York state travel advisory is in place, all students, faculty and staff traveling to campus from the affected states—defined as those with a significant current community spread of COVID-19 and updated at coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory— are required to self-quarantine for two weeks upon their return; 14 days is the maximum amount of time between the infection and the appearance of signs or symptoms. After this time period, the risk of passing the virus to someone else is very low or nonexistent. Self-quarantine includes avoiding all social contact by staying home and limiting activities in public spaces

The Governor’s advisory allows health care workers to continue working during the self-quarantine period; all Utica College faculty and staff involved in patient care are encouraged to review this guidance. It is important to know that this list of states may change. Travelers are asked to check the most up-todate information immediately before travel. The advisory does not apply to simply passing through a state for less than 24 hours.

Employee Travel

For both College-related and personal travel, non-essential Utica College employees should confirm with their supervisors the ability to work from home during the 14-day required quarantine after travel. If the travel is business-related and the employee is not able to work from home, the time will generally be paid quarantine leave. If the travel is voluntary and not business-related, employees must use available vacation time during the required self-quarantine. All of this new guidance requires advance communication between the supervisor and employee to pre-determine the plan for returning. If an employee is currently in one of the listed hot-spot states, they should be in touch with their supervisor immediately.

Essential employees are able to report to work. Utica College generally considers essential staff as those who work in areas including health care, public safety, facilities, dining services, residential life, and in some specific areas that were approved to restart. They do, however, need to adhere to stay-at-home quarantine procedures when not at work, and must take a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of returning from travel. The results of those tests may be submitted to the Office of Human Resources.

If you believe you are an essential employee and are traveling to and from one of the affected states, please speak with your supervisor about your obligations. The Office of Human Resources is also available to assist.

Student Travel

Students who are currently residing on campus this summer and who travel to and from these states should check with the Office of Student Living and College Engagement about their self-quarantine options. Students living off-campus should self-quarantine in their residences. More information will be forthcoming for students who are returning for the semester, particularly if this travel advisory is still in effect for several weeks.

The list of states included in the Governor’s advisory is based on the high incidence of COVID-19 transmission. Therefore, Utica College advises all students, faculty and staff to consider carefully the potential health risks associated with their travel, in addition to the time required to quarantine post-travel before undertaking travel outside of the state.

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

June 20, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

Over the past several weeks, our Utica College Return to Campus Task Force has been working diligently to craft a plan to allow our institution to move forward with the fall 2020 semester in-person, with necessary modifications in place to safeguard the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, families, and their home communities amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Task Force has brought forward a series of recommendations to allow UC to reopen in a prepared and conscientious manner, while sustaining to the fullest extent possible the intimate learning experience that defines UC. These  recommendations have been presented to and endorsed by the Utica College Board of Trustees, subject to New York State approval, and they will guide the reopening of campus and resumption of in-person activities, including classroom instruction, housing, dining, and intercollegiate athletics.

The more than 250 individual recommendations, which are built upon the thoughtful work of more than 50 faculty, staff members, and students who served on the Task Force, are available in full detail at here.

In the meantime, we would like to draw your attention to only a few of the key elements.

  • We will reopen campus in complete alignment with all state guidelines and requirements on public health and safety protocols, including occupancy restrictions, physical distancing requirements, use of face-coverings, self-screenings, containment and isolation protocols, and extensive health promotion and education.
  • We will welcome back students on Monday, August 17.
  • Classes for the Fall 2020 semester will begin on Monday, August 24 (one week earlier than originally planned), thus permitting in-person instruction to be completed by the Thanksgiving recess. Classes will be held during the previously scheduled fall break as well as the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.
  • Final exams will be conducted virtually following Thanksgiving recess or in an alternative in-person experience prior to the recess.
  • Students with internship or fieldwork experiences or demonstrated need for academic or technological support may return to campus for the three weeks following Thanksgiving recess.
  • The week between returning to campus and the start of the fall semester (August 17-24) will provide a resocialization period, allowing all students time to adjust to changes put into place on campus to comply with state health guidelines. Orientation for new students will also occur during this week-long period.
  • Residential move-in will be staggered, including designated times for students to “drop off and go” prior to August 17. This will help assure that we do not have an overabundance of people in one space at one time. Specific information about this process will be provided over the next several weeks.
  • With limited exceptions, all courses will be prepared for some combination of in-person, online, and hybrid delivery, should the eventuality arise that a shift to one of these other formats is needed due to increased risks of COVID-19.
  • Classrooms will be equipped with appropriate technology so that students and faculty with underlying health conditions requiring alternate arrangements have the option of distance learning.
  • A valid College-ID will be required for entry into all campus buildings.
  • To help minimize the risk of transmissions, all students will be encouraged to remain in upstate New York for the duration of the fall 2020 semester.
  • The College will adopt NCAA guidelines for athletic competition as well as the guidelines of the Empire 8 conference and our peer member institutions. Only UC students, faculty, and staff will be permitted as spectators at athletic events, with appropriate physical distancing restrictions. These protocols will be in place for the start of the fall season, and they are subject to change based on guidance from the state health officials.
  • Homecoming Weekend will be canceled for 2020.

While implementation details remain to be worked out, we invite your feedback and discussion as we move forward. To that end, I hope you will join us for a Virtual Town Hall on Monday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m. We will offer further insight and take questions, suggestions, and feedback as we continue to maneuver these unchartered waters. Log-in instructions will be shared in advance of the Town Hall via UC’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter channels. Questions for the Town Hall can be submitted ahead of time at utica.edu/student-town-hall.

We remain grateful for your resiliency, patience, and support. Working together, we can plan for and take confidence in our ability to have a great fall semester at Utica College.

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

Todd Pfannestiel
Provost

June 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Governor Cuomo announced on Friday that the Mohawk Valley region has entered phase two of New York’s four-phase restart and outlined the requirements for those entities eligible to reopen. Of particular note, the governor has identified “higher education administration” as an allowable function during this phase.

I would like to clarify what this means for Utica College and our plans for resuming on-site operations. Importantly, the inclusion of colleges and universities among phase two, “office-based” entities includes two important caveats. One, this decision involves only administrative functions; in-person academic instruction will resume during phase four, subject to state approval. Two, the governor was explicit that for the time being employees should continue working from home whenever possible.

While higher education’s inclusion in phase two is welcome news, it does not materially change our plans or timeline for reopening campus. As I shared with you previously, we intend to welcome students back to campus and resume in-person classes in August. We recognize that for many areas of the College this will require considerable lead-time for faculty and staff members to return to their normal work routines and environments, and we are preparing accordingly.

We continue to develop return-to-work plans and protocols that prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of the members of our community. We will communicate details of those plans before individuals return and frequently thereafter. For now, I want to share highlights of the state requirements of “office-based” entities in phase two.

Phased-in staffing not exceeding 50 percent capacity overall or in any single physical space – We will carefully phase in the return of faculty and staff in a coordinated process. The many details involved with this process will be determined by the Provost and me, in consultation with state and local officials, the Office of Emergency Management, school deans, and vice presidents. Specific instructions will be communicated through the deans and vice presidents. Until further notice, all faculty and staff who are currently working remotely will continue to do so.

Mandatory daily health screening – The Office of Campus Safety will maintain a continuous log of every person who is on campus. All employees who are working on-site will be sent a daily health screening prior to coming to campus. The screening will be administered through a survey distributed via e-mail and text message. The survey will ask whether you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or shown symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Only those who submit the survey will be permitted on campus.

Physical Distancing – Everyone on campus will be required to maintain physical distance of at least six feet at all times and to refrain from gathering in public spaces. Employees should remain in their individual workspaces as much as possible. Meetings will continue to be held via remote platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, WebEx, or by telephone, even if all participants are on-site.

Face Coverings – Everyone on campus will be required to wear a face covering whenever in the presence of others or in public settings. If you do not have a face covering, you must contact the Office of Emergency Management prior to returning to campus.

I remain confident that, working together with state and local health officials, we will celebrate the start of the fall semester together on campus. It may look a little different than in years past, but it is an occasion that will carry with it extra meaning this year. However, we are fully aware that we get one shot to do this right. If handled incorrectly, all the hard work on behalf of our students, families, faculty, and staff in minimizing the impact of the virus in our campus and individual communities would be for naught. It is with that in mind that we will continue to work toward reopening campus gradually in the safest and most deliberate manner possible. We look forward to making that happen and seeing you all again in-person.

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

May 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community,

We want to briefly update you on the progress of the Return to Campus Task Force and what we see as the path toward returning to in-person operations and safely welcoming our students for the fall semester.

The process for reopening college and university campuses in New York state is taking shape. We soon expect to receive full clarity on that process when the Governor’s NY Forward Advisory Board and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities release statewide guidelines for returning to in-person courses. These guidelines, which have been shared in draft form with college and university presidents and provosts, will offer individual institutions a framework around which to base campus-specific reopening plans.

As we’ve previously shared, our Return to Campus Task Force has been actively working on a plan for reopening since late April. We have been in regular communication with state and local government and public health officials to ensure at every step that the task force’s work is aligned with the guidance from the state.

The task force will present recommendations to the Utica College Board of Trustees for endorsement on June 12. These recommendations will form the foundation of the reopening plan that is submitted to New York for state review and approval, per the governor’s most recent directive. We will share the details with the full UC community after the Board has endorsed the recommendations and before we submit the plan to the state. We will provide ample opportunity for questions and discussion through virtual town halls and other means.

Over the past two weeks, we have seen several colleges and universities, including institutions in New York, release elements of their reopening plans. As much as we recognize and appreciate that people are anxious to know more about our plans for returning to in-person classes and operations, it is essential that when we announce our plan we are able to provide a level of detail beyond simply a semester start and end date. What’s more, the governor has been explicit that institutional plans adhere to the state’s guidelines for higher education. To provide specifics at this point, before official guidance is released by the Governor’s Office, would be nothing more than conjecture.

In the interim, what we can do is share the fundamental tenets of what you can expect in our reopening plan:

  • The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the communities we serve are our top priority. Every idea or solution will necessarily be filtered through this lens, and every element of our plan will include serious and informed consideration of how we protect against the transmission of the virus. Very importantly, we will make all necessary provisions for those students, faculty, and staff who have chronic underlying health conditions that may make them more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
  • We will spare no effort in ensuring that we are delivering a rigorous, highly personalized, and deeply engaging educational experience. Aspects of campus life may not look exactly the same as before. For example, we should prepare for changes to seating in classrooms, the dining commons, and social gathering spaces as well as other physical distancing measures. However, the experience will be authentically UC.
  • We will be prepared for all eventualities. As we’ve previously shared, it is our full intention to resume in-person classes in August and continue uninterrupted through the end of the semester. That said, in the event that we are forced by circumstances beyond our control to shift to a virtual environment at any point during the semester, we will be fully prepared to do so. Likewise, students who wish to continue their UC education in a virtual environment by their own choice will be provided the opportunity to do so.
  • Our plan will fit into the state’s framework for a safe and gradual reopening. We will also be prepared to respond to changing conditions and requirements as our planned reopening date approaches.
  • Lastly, while we are considering multiple scenarios for the academic calendar, we do not currently envision pushing back the semester start date.

In closing, let us assure you that we will bring all of the College’s resources to bear and do everything in our power to provide for a safe and sustainable campus reopening this fall – one that will fully reflect our unique character as an institution while minimizing the health risks posed by COVID-19. We recognize and are tremendously grateful for the resiliency you have and continue to show throughout this crisis. In times like these, when so many things are rapidly evolving and beyond our control, you can be rigid or you can adapt. We’re going to adapt. We’re going to embrace change and innovation, we’re going to lean into the opportunity to think differently, and we’re going to be a stronger institution and community for it.

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

Todd Pfannestiel
Provost

May 14, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I want to update you on Utica College’s plans for resuming in-person operations this summer and what you can expect in the weeks ahead.

As you know, New York state’s stay-at-home order, NY Pause, expires tomorrow, and portions of the region’s economy will be permitted to reopen during phase one of the state’s plan. I know many of you are anxious to return to your normal work spaces and routines. I am too. Many of you have reached out, particularly over the past 48 hours, asking whether there is a specific or target date for when we can begin working from campus again. There is not. I shared last month that summer courses will be delivered entirely online. This plan has not changed. And just as the state as a whole will reopen in phases, Utica College will resume in-person operations in a very measured and disciplined manner.

Colleges and universities are in the fourth phase of the state’s reopening plans, and Governor Cuomo has stated there will be a minimum of two weeks between phases. We can anticipate that some places of business in our region may move hastily and irresponsibly – and possibly “out of turn” – in reopening. Utica College will not. We do know that the governor has acknowledged that colleges and universities themselves will require an individual phased-in approach to reopening. In other words, we will not resume in-person operations in one fell swoop.

We need to be careful to not cement in our minds what this process will look like or calculate a timeline. As I have shared with you, a task force of faculty, staff, and students is actively working on a comprehensive plan for reopening that will detail the steps for repopulating our campus. These plans will be shared with state and local officials to ensure they comply with all public health guidelines and mandates. When we reach this point in the process, we will also present these plans to the UC community to invite feedback and make necessary modifications before proceeding. But understand we are not there yet.


I will repeat what I said earlier this week: we have every intention of resuming in-person operations this summer so that we are ready to safely welcome back students in August. In the meantime, and until further notice, we will continue to operate the College remotely, as we have done effectively for the past two months. This means faculty and staff, with few exceptions, will continue to work from home. Those who need to come onto campus for a short period of time will still be required to notify and receive authorization from the Office of Emergency
Management. Again, I expect we will gradually “ramp up” over the summer as state and local guidelines allow us to, and I will continue to update you as protocols change.

Surely, it is a positive sign that infection and hospitalization rates in the Mohawk Valley have reached a point where the region can slowly and cautiously begin to ease public health restrictions. However, the reality is that this is still a very fluid situation, and that doesn’t magically change this weekend or anytime in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, we are preparing for multiple scenarios and working through different variations within each so that we can find the safest path to coming back together.

I remain grateful for your patience, support, and cooperation. Keep your spirits up.

Sincerely,

Laura Casamento
President

May 12, 2020

Dear Members of the Utica College Community:

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that the Mohawk Valley region has met the defined benchmarks for beginning a phased-in reopening after the state’s stay-at-home order, NY Pause, expires this Saturday. I want to share, to the extent that I can, what this means for Utica College.  

While the precise timing of our return to normal operations is still not clear, I assure you we will be ready to welcome our students back to campus this fall and deliver an educational experience that is authentically UC. I say this with confidence, knowing we are united behind this goal and fully aware of the careful steps we must take. 

In preparation for the Governor’s announcement, the College has been actively engaged in thorough and thoughtful planning across multiple levels. The New York Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, for which I’ve been appointed to the executive committee, is working directly with the Governor’s Office to shape the state’s plans for reopening campuses. Because the Governor has stressed the need for a coordinated regional approach, I am also in regular discussion with the presidents of the colleges and universities within the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council.

At the same time, the faculty, staff, and student members of the Return to Campus Task Force I named two weeks ago have dove into the work of developing a comprehensive framework for bringing our community back together in a way that is safe, responsible, and attuned to the unprecedented realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Details of these plans will be released within the next 30 days, and over the coming weeks, we will be hosting several virtual town hall events to update you, get feedback on the planning, and answer questions. In the meantime, I want to provide a preview of what you can anticipate and begin addressing some common questions that may arise. 

  • The health and safety of our campus and surrounding community remains our highest priority and continues to guide our thinking and planning. Even as we gradually return to a “modified normal,” we know there is no clear end date to the coronavirus pandemic in sight. To that end, the guidance and mandates of government and public health agencies will be fundamental to our plans for reopening. We are carefully considering the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of members of our community and taking every precaution to minimize the health risk, even knowing that, as the CDC has cautioned, we cannot reduce it to zero. 
  • We are not going at this important work alone. We continue to work in close coordination and partnership with the Oneida County Health Department and the Mohawk Valley Health System to implement all necessary protocols and mitigation measures, including physical distancing, testing and tracing systems, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, mask-wearing, self-screenings, isolation for those who are ill or have been exposed, expanded counseling services, travel restrictions, and special accommodations for immunocompromised and other vulnerable members of our community. 
  • We are confident that, with the right precautions in place, our students can fully participate in the vibrant and uniquely personal experience for which UC is known. Though implementing these safety measures will pose challenges, we will seize this opportunity to think differently and start new conversations. This will require some creative solutions to how we deliver in-person instruction, modifications to living, learning, and gathering spaces, and possible adjustments to athletic competition; however, we are committed to providing a high quality academic and campus life experience. 
  • We will gradually reopen our campus over the course of the summer, with the goal of resuming normal operations prior to the start of the fall semester. Educational institutions are included in Phase 4 of the New York state reopening plan, but the Governor’s office recognizes that colleges and universities will require a runway. At UC, this means slowly ramping up on-campus operations. In many respects, the summer months will serve as a soft restart so that we can carefully prepare for welcoming students and resuming in-person classes and activities in August. During this soft restart period, faculty and staff members who can perform their responsibilities remotely will continue to do so. For those needing to return to their workspaces during the summer in order to plan for the fall, we will limit and stagger their hours in campus facilities to reduce density and maintain social distance.
  • Will our “modified normal” look different? Of course it will. We know this is the reality of the COVID-19 environment. But with reasonable measures in place to minimize risk, we can return to campus and take comfort in knowing that we are in this together.    
  • We recognize that plans may need to change. Obviously, there is still much that the science, public health, and medical communities do not know about the novel coronavirus. We are planning for all scenarios, and as circumstances evolve, we will be prepared to adapt our measures. 

Surely, there will be many more adjustments to our new reality in the era of COVID-19. But these challenges will continue to bring out the best of our innovative spirit and demonstrate the depth of our commitment to providing a highly personal education inside and outside the classroom. 

As much as this crisis has and may continue to require all of us to constantly pivot and change course, we are ready to move forward – together. 

Sincerely,
Laura Casamento
President

July 1, 2020

May 13, 2020

New York State Guidelines and Information

New York State has issued guidance intended to address all types of in-person higher education institutions, including but not limited to community and junior colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, medical schools, and technical schools. 

NYSED Reopening Guidance for Colleges & Universities

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